Once Mr. Jones is forced off his farm, the animals implement a code of law based upon seven commandments. The most important of these is the seventh commandment: “all animals are equal.” As the story moves forward, the pigs alter the commandments to make the commandments more amenable to the behavior of the new pig ruling class. Ultimately, the other animals discover that the seventh commandment has been rewritten to read “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
I was reminded of Animal Farm recently when I flew into my home airport. As I was walking to the parking lot, I noticed a very nice, expensive car parked in the “Authorized Cars Only” area of the airport. This parking area is much closer to the terminal than general parking, and closer than disabled individuals are allowed to park as well. What really made the car stand out were the “State House Member” license plate and the name tag hanging from the rearview mirror which identified the car’s owner as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly and a “local official.”
When I asked the airport authorities if politicians were extended the privilege of preferred (and I assume free) parking, I was told, rather curtly, that (paraphrasing) “since government officials represent The People, they are allowed to park in this area when they are on official business.” (By the way, more investigation revealed that the owner of the car in question may not actually have been on “official business” during this time period.)
Okay, now the fun starts. First of all, this particular politician, let’s call him Napoleon, does not represent me. Napoleon does not come from my district nor would I vote for him if he did. Besides, as Lysander Spooner pointed out, since voting is done anonymously, we don’t know whom, if anyone, Napoleon does represent. In addition, since Napoleon claims powers and rights that “The People” do not possess, including the authority to initiate force against peaceful individuals, we cannot claim that Napoleon is acting in his alleged capacity as an agent of “The People” when exercising said powers.
The cliche that Napoleon represents “The People” is utterly nonsensical. At most, Napoleon represents some of the people in a particular geographic region some of the time. However, the idea that his position as a government official grants Napoleon special privileges is downright dangerous.
Unlike Animal Farm, America did not begin as an egalitarian collectivist society. Nevertheless, we do generally accept the premise that all individuals are, or, at least, should be, equals in the eyes of the law with uniform and identical rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In other words, there is only supposed to be one class of people. You are not supposed to gain special benefits from the State just because of who you are or what you do. In other words, in terms of my treatment by the government, my name tag identifying me as a “local unofficial” should carry as much prestige and privilege as Napoleon’s “local official” does. But we all know that it doesn’t.
From President Obama’s $20 million Hawaiian vacation, to the fact that Congress sometimes exempts itself from the laws it compels the rest of us to obey, to the lavish pensions that Congress votes itself and federal workers, to sovereign immunity and civil asset forfeiture laws, to presidents flaunting drug laws and then laughing about it while normal folks see their lives destroyed for the same actions, to the kid glove treatment extended the politically connected, the list goes on and on.
Of course, we should expect that a government run institution like an airport would pander to its benefactors, i.e., politicians who have the ability to shower it with taxpayer money. And it may seem innocuous that a government official would take advantage of his position in this trivial way. However, all of this is indicative of the more serious problem: the fact that there are two classes in this country today. These two classes are not, as the mainstream would have us believe, neatly divided along ethnic, gender, or economic lines. They are divided along political lines, that is, those who wield political power, along with their minions, and the rest of us.
It is quite obvious that, despite what our high school civics textbooks say, we are now living in a world in which some animals are more equal than other animals. And, just like in Animal Farm, the pigs are in charge.